Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Portland Monuments: Your Turn to Speak Out

Should Abe be restored?

 At long last, citizens have a chance to say whether historic monuments that were removed illegally some three years ago should be returned or replaced. 

The Portland City Council will make the ultimate decision sometime in 2024.  Whether monuments that were removed should be replaced has been a hot-button issue ever since.  Never willing to wade into controversy, the City Council set up a committee that eventually will make recommendations.

In the meantime, the citizens’ first opportunity to weigh in comes in the form of an internet questionnaire, which you can find here:  https://www.portland.gov/monuments/get-involved

A series of public meetings also are to be scheduled early next year.

Preservationists who would like to see the most important monuments returned are viewing the questionnaire with a moderate dose of skepticism.  So far, notice of its existence has been scant, suggesting that perhaps it is being skewed to a certain audience.  The questions regarding ethnicity also raise the possibility that its results will be filtered through the lens of equity, diversity of inclusion – code words that have come to raise the possibility of exclusion and discrimination. 

For sure, quibbles can be raised about all the figures honored by the monuments – some more than others.  This is not necessarily a zero-sum game – some monuments could be returned and expanded upon with further information, while others get permanently removed from public view.  It also is obvious that some elements of Portland’s diverse population have not been included in the city’s collection of monuments.

The public conversation deserves to be thorough and honest.  So, take the survey.  Let’s try to obtain the most comprehensive public thoughts.

 ----Fred Leeson

Join Building on History’s email list by writing “add me” to fredleeson@hotmail.com

1 comment:

  1. I took the survey. In some ways I thought, apparently like others, that the questions were posed in such a way as to insure responses that had already been predetermined. This is called a "push poll" in marketing. Nevertheless, it is bringing the subject to the forefront of public discussion. It will be interesting to see what the City does next.